FUKUOKA – Undefeated Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu notched a clinical win over ozeki Kaio at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament Thursday, placing the grand champion within spitting distance of his third straight victory title.
Asashoryu improved to 12-0 with just three days remaining at the 15-day meet, moving within clear sight of his 19th Emperor’s Cup.
The closest opponent with a mathematical chance of catching Asashoryu is rank-and-filer Homasho, who sits two off the pace at 10-2 after a defeat to injury-weary ozeki Tochiazuma.
In the day’s final, Asashoryu dismissed the rowdy chants for hometown favorite Kaio, never allowing the ozeki in for his preferred left-handed belt grip at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Asashoryu tangled Kaio’s hands up with concentrated movements before getting both hands in for a firm underarm grip and ushering his rival over the straw bales.
Injury-plagued Kaio, who had come into the meet facing relegation for a record 10th time, slipped to 9-3, failing for the sixth straight time to beat the yokozuna.
In another key bout, ozeki Tochiazuma, nursing an injured knee, gave Homasho a sumo lesson, dumping the No. 11 maegashira to the dirt with a beltless arm throw to improve to 9-3.
Homasho has mounted a bid in the title race but appeared to fold under the pressure against sumo’s second-highest rank.
Ozeki Chiyotaikai (8-4) laid the pressure on thick against rival Kotomitsuki (8-4), bashing the sekiwake with a barrage of slaps before flinging him down to the dohyo surface.